Born in 1974 in Madrid, SpainLives and works in London, UKOchi Reyes’ photographic practice questions the boundaries between self and other, exploring how the outside world enters and inscribes itself on the body. While her work is always grounded in personal events and intimate emotional states, she connects these with broader notions of identity shaped by the outer world. She is particularly interested in the construction of gender and sexuality, as well as in questions of kinship and how these inform individual and collective identity.
After studying at the Murcia School of Art, Ochi moved to London, completing a degree in Photographic Arts and an MA in Photographic Studies, both at Westminster University. Her work has been exhibited at The Photographers’ Gallery, Shunt, The Penthouse in Manchester, PhotoEspaña and Tate Modern, and has also been published in Source magazine, 1000words and CienOjos.
Who is your shero and why?Our everyday life is full of female role models we might chose to follow, explore, investigate, or just be fans of. These sheroes give our identity a hint of how a woman can be empowered, the things they make inspire our lives and our work to then construct, build and create other work that will talk about us, about our experiences as women, and finally might inspire others to carry on contributing to this collective female identity.
How does the work you are presenting exemplify the theme of ‘sheroes’?With Memory is like sand in my hands, my aim is to pay homage to filmmaker Agnès Varda and, through this, to talk about the relationship we have with others. Varda’s work provides an honest view of the world and people that surround her, and she empowers them by bringing them to the camera. But her work also talks about herself and her identity in relation to these others. My connection with Agnès Varda has always been instinctive and intuitive. From the first film of hers that I watched, I related to her humanity and her unpretentious yet rich and productive way of seeing the world and of relating to others and their environment.
Memory is like sand in my hands began circa 2012 when people kept telling me that I looked like Varda. Strangers would say this, even stopping me in the street to tell me so. I started to question my relationship with her, now as her ‘lookalike’, and how this could contribute to our collective feminist herstory. Who am I then? Sand disappearing through the cracks between fingers, my identity disappearing and merging with hers in the pile that the sand grains form on the surface they land on.